I fell of my Wii balance board the other night. It’s only an inch high so you wouldn’t think that maintaining my balance would be so hard. But, there were virtual soccer balls flying at me...and shoes...and pandas. I was trying to head the balls and duck the bad stuff and I lost my balance. This got me thinking about balance. We take balance for granted. Nearly anyone can maintain their balance just standing there, or even walking around. But change the parameters a bit and it gets harder.
If I asked you to walk across a 4 inch beam I’m sure you would feel you could do it. No problem. Now what if the beam is 4 feet off the ground? How confident are you in your balance now? We have just crossed in to an area of specialization where gymnasts excel and most everyone else loses their balance with painful results. Now let’s tighten up the parameters a bit more and ask that you walk across a cable stretched between 2 buildings. Not taking balance for granted any more are you? Only a very select few people would try this. Lose your balance and you make the evening news!
My point is that getting the balance right in a multi variable scenario is hard. In a multicore SoC design it is really, really hard and we shouldn’t take it for granted. Getting a homogeneous multicore device right is challenging enough but at least all the processing elements are the same and the data structures are similar. The SoCs TI makes for wireless applications are many times more complex. We have a wide variety of processing elements to deal with; DSP cores, ARM cores, wireless accelerators, security processors and packet processors. There is streaming data from the air interfaces and packet data from the network. Then, there is high speed I/O and Ethernet switching to integrate. The art of SoC design is getting all of this to operate smoothly, without stalling, at low power, in an economical die with great yields and in a compact package. If the designers over compensate for anything the balance will be off resulting in poor performance, excessive power consumption, poor yields, high cost etc.
The key to a well balanced multicore SoC is getting the architectural infrastructure right. Right-size the interconnect, the memory management and the processing elements for the target markets, and, oh yeah, make the software scale, and you have a winner. Getting this balance right is the most critical part of multicore SoC design. It is the multicore equivalent of a high wire act.
TI’s KeyStone design team members are the Wallendas of multicore SoC design! They have created an amazingly well balanced design that is powerful yet power efficient and cost effective. And, the KeyStone architecture scales. It works well for everything from small enterprise femto base stations through the largest macro base stations. KeyStone devices are also a great match for new base station innovations like remote radios, active antennas and C-RAN (Cloud Radio Access Network). Creating a multicore architecture that is as well balanced as KeyStone with this many conflicting variables is an amazing feat.
Here are some other amazing feats of balance:
This one isn’t really balance but it is unreal!
How important do you think balance is now?
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